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Baseball, softball training franchise to buy Sports City

A real estate developer and contractor from Williamsport has a contract to buy the Sports City indoor soccer complex in Lower Paxton Township, where he hopes to open a new location for a baseball and softball training franchise this fall.

John Albarano, who owns Albarano Construction Inc., said Tuesday that he expects to close on the purchase of the property in August and open a Frozen Ropes Training Center by November. Frozen Ropes is a New York-based franchise that specializes in baseball and softball.

“The Sports City site was on their radar,” said Albarano, a Frozen Ropes franchisee. “The national office had their eye on the Harrisburg-Hershey area.”

The Dauphin County location, at 4141 Linglestown Road, would be the first Pennsylvania franchise for Frozen Ropes.

Sports City owner Eric Kessler recently listed the property for $2.4 million with RSR Realtors. Albarano said he is paying close to the asking price, but declined to offer specific terms.

The complex has been used by the Capital Area Soccer Association, which is affiliated with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Soccer League and known by the initials CASA. The facility, built in 1972, spans about 47,000 square feet, including about 4,000 square feet leased to the Kimlee Vietnamese Restaurant, which will stay as a tenant.

In addition to installing a new large open turf area for baseball and softball, Albarano said he wants to use the facility for soccer and field hockey training. He said his goal is to keep CASA in the facility.

“Our intention is to work with them to keep them here,” he said. “We are trying to accommodate their schedule.”

Albarano, who is relocating his family to the Hershey area, said he sees a lot of demand for year-round indoor training facilities tied to youth sports.

“Places for individual training or small groups, those spaces are becoming very popular,” he said, citing growth at places like Spooky Nook in Lancaster County.

However, not everyone is willing to travel all the time and many families would like training centers closer to home, he said. Albarano, who has a daughter on a travel softball team, said he has already heard from local coaches interested in the Frozen Ropes concept. The facility will have 12 to 15 batting cages and a separate bullpen area for pitching and instruction.

“I think we’ve hit on something that is needed,” he said. 

Lisa Birocci Banse, a national softball pitching director, has been hired to lead softball pitching instruction and sports performance training for athletes at Albarano’s facility. She will also be offering sports yoga classes.

Albarano said he also got lucky on the timing of the Sports City listing. “Had we not found this facility, we would still probably be one or two years out,” he said. “We would have had to acquire land and build new.”